WINCHESTER – Michigan driver Erik Jones continued his storybook season by winning the 42nd running of the Winchester 400 Sunday in a race that will be remembered as a classic.
Jones took the lead following the final round of pit stops on Lap 352 and then held off Chase Elliott over the final 34 circuits to win by a half-second.
Last year Jones won the Snowball Derby, beating Kyle Busch, whose team he now drives for.
Augie Grill climbed through the field to take the lead from Johnny VanDoorn on Lap 334 with an inside pass entering Turn 3 and it appeared the Alabama driver had the race in hand when the 10th and final caution flag waved when Scott Neal spun in Turn 4.
With all the leaders stopping for tires, Jones was the first off pit road followed by Elliott, Austin Theriault and VanDoorn. Grill came out in the eighth spot after the crew had a problem changing the right rear tire.
Following the restart VanDoorn, looking to capture the JEGS $100,000 bonus for winning the Rowdy 251 at Berlin Raceway and the Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway, moved into the second spot with 35 laps remaining.
But from there he battled an ill-handling race car and finished eighth, one lap down.
Following Jones and Elliott to the checkers were Mason Mingus, Grill and Daniel Hemric.
“This is an amazing day,” Jones said. “Normally this is a survival race, but this time we kept on our strategy. I knew that with the next set of tires we would be able to get back into contention.”
The race was slowed only 10 times for a total of 85 laps by caution periods, with several long stretches of green flag racing.
“The cautions fell our way,” Jones said. “I think my car was a little better on the long runs.”
The victory came in only Jones’ second Winchester 400 appearance.